by Gemma Bayly, year 13 student, Kaipara college
This summer, my family tented our way around the South Island. We had no set itinerary and followed the weather, staying dry on the West Coast and got burnt in Central Otago. After spending a few days in Te Anau with family, we turned around for the long trip home.
One of our few plans was to meet some friends in Mt Cook for a night. We had a lovely day driving over the Lindis Pass from Wanaka, watching tussocks wave in the wind. At Lake Ruataniwha, Mum reminisced about her glory days as a rower.
Then we saw the grey clouds. They loomed over the mountains near Mt. Cook. Everywhere else, the sun still beat down on the brown fields. Dad had to fight the urge to drive as far away from the rain as possible.
Mum's phone rang. Our friends had arrived at the campsite. "They sounded stressed. I wonder why?" she remarked afterwards.
We stayed silent. "Maybe we can stay in cabins tonight?"
The rain began as a drizzle, then grew louder until we were cloaked in grey. Blue sky taunted us from behind. The thought of cabins and nice warm showers kept us from heading back down the hills.
We pulled up to the campsite an hour later. Immediately all hope of a warm night drained from our hearts. The green and yellow DOC sign greeted us. A few toilets stood out of the sodden, rocky ground. Of course none of us had thought to do any research. Cones blocked the entrance to the campground. As Mum got out to move them, a lady leaned out of her caravan and yelled, "Don't go over there. The river's going to rise tonight."
It was then that we noticed our friends, huddled up under a canopy on the other side, cold, soaked and clueless about the rising river. "Let's go and see them," Dad suggested.
As soon as we opened the car doors, the sky lit up. Only a few seconds later, thunder boomed. A dusting of snow fell onto the mountains right above us. Cold bit into us, wriggling under our raincoats and into our spines. Why did I wear shorts?
We soon concocted a plan. We'd have dinner at the campsite then find somewhere else to
The five of us ended up in a cramped room in a lodge with an extra mattress on the floor. It was small, but warm and dry and exactly what we needed.
Every time we'd been to the South Island before, it was hot and sunny. I think that the South Island was trying to show us North Islanders what it's really like.